23 April

NFDA Clarifies BEIS Position on Online Sales and Deliveries

Following recent articles concerning comments attributed to BEIS in connection with remote (online) sales and deliveries by certain media publications, the NFDA have spoken to a senior official in BEIS for clarification. The clarification obtained, and what this means for the automotive retail sector, can be summarised as follows:

  • Contrary to media reports, no official statement has been released by BEIS in the last few days regarding dealers’ entitlement to sell remotely and deliver cars to customers.
  • It was suggested that the comments attributed to BEIS yesterday by some parts of the automotive media, would have come from a member of the BEIS press office and should not be taken as official guidance; nor should they be taken as a statement or recommendation that dealers should open, sell online or deliver vehicles etc. It is not up to BEIS to determine the commercial approaches taken by businesses.
  • The position of BEIS has not changed from earlier guidance. The COVID-19 guidance of 7 April stands and no further clarification is expected at this time.
  • A retailer’s (dealer’s) decision to sell remotely (including online) and deliver products remains exclusively a decision for the dealer. This decision will naturally be informed by a range of considerations arising from the present COVID-19 crisis, not simply whether the dealer technically has the right to sell online and deliver cars in accordance with Government guidance.
  • As an aside, if one party were to be forcing or applying pressure to another party to trade and deliver products to customers at the present time – where the latter was not comfortable that all of the relevant precautions could be taken or was otherwise ill-equipped to do so as a result of issues connected with COVID-19 - this would raise concerns.
  • As indicated above, BEIS has no immediate plans to issue further guidance to supplement or amend that already issued in the previous weeks by the COVID-19 Response Team of the Cabinet Office.
  • Businesses should, if they require further guidance at this stage, - including in terms of the precautions to follow if choosing to sell remotely and offer deliveries (which is an option as already explained by the likes of the NFDA) - seek it from responsible and professional trade bodies, such as the NFDA and SMMT.